History of Mobile Computers

Another entry for us computer nuts… Mobile PC Magazine has an interesting article covering the history of mobile computers.

It’s clear from the article that, particularly in the early days, the meanings of the words "mobile" and "portable" were often stretched almost beyond breaking point (as were the arms of the proud owners). I well remember an advert for the Osborne computer, where the smile on the face of the man carrying it looked suspiciously like the rictus grin of someone who has just realised he has a double hernia. 

Although the article mentions the IBM 5100 as the first portable computer, it seems to imply that all the successors to that were based on the PC design. I don’t think that’s right. I remember in 1981 IBM came out with the System/23 – a 45 Kg monster. While not strictly a "portable" (it was classified by IBM as "transportable" – ho, ho, nudge, nudge, know what I mean, squire?), the advertising certainly showed someone holding one. Actually, come to think of it, I believe it was an artist’s impression; perhaps Arnold wasn’t available for a photoshoot. We actually got one in for evaluation. Fortunately, the real IBM PC showed up a few months later, and it rapidly became clear that in the evolutionary stakes, the System/23 was a doomed dinosaur.

About Geoff Coupe

I'm a British citizen, although I have lived and worked in the Netherlands since 1983. I came here on a three year assignment, but fell in love with the country, and one Dutchman in particular, and so have stayed here ever since. On the 13th December 2006 I also became a Dutch citizen.
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